The Hoax of Creativity

Creativity is hugely discussed in society of today, perhaps partly due to the rising industry of so called “creative careers”. This can include the more traditional jobs in the field such as acting or writing but also, from a modern day perspective, self employment in video making, blogging, photography, or styling alias content creators and influencers. But are these careers and people really creative? What even is creativity today? Is it all just a hoax?

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Creativity is defined as “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something” and is referred to as a synonym for inventiveness. The terminology is used left and right, often praised in the process of creation. New ideas and procedures are obviously a huge part of a progressive society and in shifting history, evolving and developing, but also often talked about as crucial in creating something of real value. And sometimes this is true, old can’t compete with new. Introducing new ideas can be paradigm shifting and hugely benefitting in various fields, both in societal and artistic matters, it’s the fundamental basis of science and its discoveries. Medicine, technology, ideology, and human experiences are all built upon the result of change, the result of creativity.

However, as the saying continues, new can’t compete with old. Creativity is not necessary in the process of creation and sometimes completely useless for the result of production and its value doesn’t rely on creativity. In matters of for example literature, history proves otherwise. The larger amount of history of literature is solemnly based upon author’s ability to constantly build and refer their works to writers before them; in certain time periods, showing any kind of originality was frowned upon and showcased that the writer didn’t have the knowledge of previous work or the ability to use them. The Divine Comedy (1320) by Dante is the perfect example of this, a piece of literature highly praised for its greatness but still a product of previous work, primarily The Aeneid by Virgil written 25 B.C (which obviously also was a product of previous works, in this case referring to The Iliad and The Odyssey written by Homer circa 700 B.C). And this is the case of creation even today, in all fields viewed as creative. Writing and composing music is always done in the framework of rhythm and a set of rules regarding the structural integrity. An actor follows notes and instructions from the director, who follows the written screenplay by the writer who often adapt and base their work upon a book which I’ve already established is in most cases a product of previous work. But this relationship of creativity is also dynamic, as it has many levels to it. A product or other creation is separated into different aspects, and the amount of creativity used in the process can vary for the same very matter. However, while a creation can be hugely original in its format, perhaps a movie shot in one sequence (which by this time has already been done various times) or a book written in white ink that only reflects in the sun or whatever, the themes of all creation are seldom truly original. This is what usually is referred as genres. Love and relationships, family conflicts, the different classes of society, war and political conflict, industrialisation and technology, materialistic matters such as money, or even creation itself (and so much more). These are all recycled endlessly throughout the different forms of creation, mostly due to the limited experiences of humanity. This can even be said in modern day “creative” fields amongst content creators and influencers. Playing specific games such as Minecraft, The Sims, or Fortnite; showcasing what’s in someone’s bag, talking through a brands new collection of lipstick, or doing a seasonal look book; sharing food recipes, mystery ingredient challenges, and tasting videos. And furthermore. It’s been done to an excessive amount in the last perhaps 10 years, so showcasing the insides of one’s bag is in fact not a very creative piece of work.

So why do people automatically associate the work of creation as a whole as something undoubtedly creative? Perhaps due to the attitude towards the word creativity. There’s a very mysterious, almost magical aura around the term creativity and people associated with it. Singers, authors, directors, actors, and now also influencers of social media are all portrayed as the stereotypical imagery of the creative, often damaged, loner doing their jobs with a wine glass in one hand and cigarette, perhaps even a joint, in the other having an experience and putting that into their works. A magical stardust that leads them in their lives and work that creates wonders, but can also be easily lost. Writer’s block is viewed almost as a disruption of the soul and its connection to this magical process of creation. A shift or error in the communication of the universe. A sign from the stars. (Perhaps they’re actually tripping?). But all of this is obviously not true. Creativity is not tied to specific work fields or people doing these jobs. Creativity shouldn’t even be viewed as a personality trait, since it’s not absolute. No one can be constantly creative. It’s more of a state of mind, that can be used in fields of writing or acting but equally as well in teaching or data programming. It doesn’t even have to be used in the original context of creating a product, but rather in the more metaphorical kind, such as problem solving. Someone can be very efficient at problem solving in data programming, but that wouldn’t be called creativity but rather cleverness.

However, possibly surprising, not being creative don’t equal not being successful or creating meaningfully. As mentioned before, Dante became a literary figure associated with greatness and perfection even if his books were fanfiction of Virgil. Gaming videos are the most watched on the entirely of Youtube with Felix Kjellberg, otherwise known as PewDiePie, on the very top, being the most subscribed to channel of the entire platform. Furthermore, the quality of creation isn’t fundamentally built upon creativity. Quality and creativity aren’t mutually exclusive, but simultaneously not mutually inclusive as well; but rather separate and sometimes combined. Some of the best works in any field are the well composed intertextual creations, filled with references to previous creators. Certain concepts and procedures of production are much more suitable for human consumption, even if they’re not creative. People will also appreciate certain recycled genres in much larger amount than they care for new. Stories of love have always existed and will probably never die, but books or movies about robot invasions are a fairly new invention due to technology advancement that also might collapse with further advancement. Repetitiveness isn’t as negative as it might appear, for example songs about selfies will definitely, hopefully, die out.

Let’s reserve the label of creativity for the truly creative, not for elitism but for logic and for dismantling the stigma around creating; for the fear of creating in a world that demands constant creativity even though it’s never a necessity but rather a unwritten law. And let’s scrap the idea that some people are naturally creative and praised beyond the statuses of Gods because of it. Even Apollo, the actual God of music, probably wrote his pieces and performed not solemnly creatively, but rather based upon a set rules of music. Be like Apollo. Create both creatively and uncreatively. Let’s raise a glass for that, to the hoax of creativity!



Writing: Power and Catharsis

Writing as a phenomenon aims to createletters or characters that serve as visible signs of ideas, words, or symbols”, and is at its core a form of communication of the human verbal language. It’s a strategy, a simple matter of putting the spoken into specifically defined curbs of the visual, and is used on a daily basis by a great majority of people. It’s proceed in grocery lists, sticky notes, recollections of information, and a constant back-and-forth messaging. However, the idea of writing is most often associated with creativity, as the most simple of matters have become an industry of imagination. Writing, the formality of the term, has transformed into a form of art, which has made it more unaccessible, not for the public, but for the artists among us. However, this is not the only way to observe and use the tool of writing.

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George Orwell awed humanity with his novels about the totalitarian state, Malala Yousafzai used writing to solidify her activism and tell the story of rebellion, and Harriet Beecher Stowe was once called “the little lady who started the great war” by Abraham Lincoln for contributing to the war and the dismantling of slavery by writing her famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin from 1853. Writing and the written words are not only forms of art, but a tool of influence, and furthermore power. A common saying of writing is that the pen is the most powerful weapon (“The Pen is Mightier than the Sword”), also recurring in 1900s feminist theory with authors such as Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, and Elin Wägner. These historical people of immense political influence all built their careers and rewrote the norms of society through their authorship, proceeding in the aim of writing by presenting ideas of priorly rarely discussed matters of women’s independence, gender as a social construct, and women’s collectives. And while the mentioned authors proceed their writings with artfulness, this depicts a reality in which writing necessarily isn’t centered around creativity, but rather only tool of presenting ideas and gaining influence and therefore power.

Writing can also be a form of therapy, a cleansing experience, catharsis. This can be done in various manners, but the most common one is journaling. To regularly use writing to communicate one’s thoughts and experiences in personal means is a tool to structuralize the brain into order and logic, transforming complex emotions into words and letting them be held by the fragile structure of a book spine; that is the most simple form of multiplex therapy. And to deepen this argument, the cleansing experience isn’t limited to the highly personal containment of a journal. The term catharsis originates from the works of Aristotle, in his Poetics (335 B.C) he established the notion of the expression to be the cleansing that comes with the production or consumption of art, primarily literature. The modern definition of the word is “purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art”.

Catharsis as a terminology isn’t targeted at the writing of personal matters, but the cleansing experience of the writing that is meant to and later proceeded to be published for other’s consumption. The original purpose was never specified to whom the terminology was created for, so the purpose of the act is only interpreted by literary scholars. It can be said to be a crucial part of authors’ processes of writing, for the finest literature is created through the purification of the soul, or also be a method for the audience to experience such powerful emotions and be cleansed by it, historically often during theatre shows.

Writing can be explained as the most complex form of art, since it forces humans to articulate emotions and thought processes perhaps too dynamic and abstract for the verbal communication that demands elaborate specification. However this is the ultimate form of expression, simply due to the complicated and patency of it. No other art form demands the same amount of sure instinct than writing, regardless of it being the most personal notes in a journal, a political statement, or a novel.